Which Indian Language Poetry will you like to read ?

Indian Poetry

A Transparent Description

A J SEBASTIAN

What I had held tight
with hope was
neither fruit nor seed
neither beast nor bird
nor solid nor liquid nor body
It had no odour,
was neither cold nor hot,
? held no tharippu
was not dead.

Still let me put it
in a cage and feed it
so that I may know
what it is.

The next day
behind the iron mesh
infested with flies
it lay rotting:
my pride.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

dancing drops

hrishikesan P B

the drops started coming out
finally
after long waiting
in a ferocious summer
heat waves and
piercing sunrays
on this tree less land
of absolute loneliness
embedded in
barren paths

the effulgence of water drops
cooled an infant tiny moth and a big toe
near the
broken tap
of hand pump.

Translated by Poet from Irish to English
Cataract glimpse of Malayalam poetry

Cataract glimpse of Malayalam poetry

hrishikesan P B

The poetry in Malayalam is diverse and highly dynamic in nature. The modernism in poetry starting from 1950s with Ayyappa panikkar Ayyappath N N Kakkad and others further became focused and streamlined by Attoor Ravi Varma, K G Sankara Pillai and K Satchidanandan, the trio of 70’s. Attoor’s Samkramanam (transformation) Ayyappanikar’s Kurukshetram and KGS’s Bengal Kadammanitta’s Kurathi , among others made mile stone impacts in channelizing breathtaking paths of Malayalam poetry. Later, the sensibilities changed, outlook and apprehensions varied, but these tall figures remain tall in the main stream. The first Jnanapeeth award winner G Sankarakurup could not make much influence on the next generation compared to his contemporaries Vyloppilli Edasseri or Kunjiraman Nair.The meter and shloka era faded away slowly. Some new rhythms emerged. The folklore and native impulses got recognized and diffused in poetry. The sage like poets, Kunjunni Mashu, the down to earth poets like A Ayyappan, became effulgent. A Ayyappan wrote from his heart using his blood, sleeping on foot path keeping profound purity in poetry without any technical jargons. On the conventional front, with remnants of modernism, by 80’s 90’s, Balachandran Chullikkad established a centre line position in Malayalam poetry, with intense feelings focused in remodelled word meanings integrated with marvellous rhythm.

Further 80’s and 90’s saw amazingly radiant poetry from T P Rajeevan who later also established as a famous novelist. P P Ramachandran, K R Tony, P Raman and a series of fine poets emerged in the mean time. Along with them Rafiq Ahmad, Anwar, Veeran Kutty and many in the same period, created their own identity.

The senior women poets in Malayalam Like Sugathakumari, Kamala Das, Vijayalaxmi Savitri Rajeevan and Anita Thampi and many made special impacts in Malayalam poetry with their unique writings.

The lyrical poems of O N V Kurup, Jnanapeeth Award winner, are embedded in the minds of every Malayalee.

There are also off beat poets-like Emigrant Pravasi poets who stay away from this land of ‘keera’ or coconut - KERALAM- like Cheriyan K Cheriyan , Jayan KC from New York and many poets from Gulf countries & different cities of India, who generally do not come in mainstream discussions. In nutshell one can find diverse categories of poetry in Malayalam with their own ethnicity and identity. There are post modern, progressive, dalit, women, environmental, experimental, simple, shloka, haiku, hasya, blog, bhakti, audio, avant-garde and all…

Thus Malayalam poetry has a multi dimensional scenario ever changing and highly spectacular both in reading and listening.

With the above as an abstract, during the last 15 years poetic sensibilities in Malayalam transformed enormously. The subtle sensibilities introduced by Kalppatta Narayanan and K Jayaseelan are more visible. Satchidanandan has become world poet. Attoor is poet’s poet. ONV Madhusoodanan Nair, Balachandran Chullikkad became part of daily chanting. Akkitham writes in unchanged ancient style. PP Ramachandran’s complete works have been already released.

There are many poets - a rough estimate states more than 10,000 serious poet’s existential dilemma in Malayalam. I have neither read nor understood even half percent, so my apologies to readers for my progressively opaque vision. But one thing is crystal clear. River descends in a succession of amazing cataracts, not still but flows in all directions spreading the vibes of God’s own country.

Translated by
dancing drops

The Crucified

Jayan K Cherian

A prayer that
sharpens its eyes
towards the sky

Kindness that
opens its arms
sidewise

Nakedness that
pierces the earth.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan

BURNT POEMS

K Satchidanandan

I am a half-burnt poem.

Yes, you guessed right,

a girl’s love poem.


Girls’ love poems have

Seldom escaped fire:

father’s fire, brother’s fire,

even mother’s, an heirloom.


Only some girls half-escape:

those half-charred ones

we call Sylvia Plath,

Anna Akhmatova

or Kamala Das.


Some girls, to escape fire,

hide their desire

under the veil of piety:

thus is born a Meera,

an Andal, a Mahadevi Akka.


Every nun is a burnt

love-poem, addressed to

the ever-young Jesus.


Rarely, very rarely,

one girl learns to

laugh at the world

with that tender affection

only women are capable of.

Then the world names her

Wislawa Szymborska.


Of course , Sappho:

she was saved only as

her love poems were

addressed to women.

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

GANDHI AND POETRY

K Satchidanandan

One day a lean poem

reached Gandhi’s ashram

to have a glimpse of the man.

Gandhi spinning away

his thread towards Ram

took no notice of the poem

waiting at his door

ashamed as he was no bhajan.


The poem cleared his throat

and Gandhi looked at him sideways

through those glasses

that had seen Hell.

‘Have you ever spun thread?’, he asked,

‘Ever pulled a scavenger’s cart?

Ever stood the smoke

of an early morning kitchen?

Have you ever starved?’


The poem said: ‘I was born

in the woods, in a hunter’s mouth.

A fisherman brought me up in his hamlet.

Yet, I know no work, I only sing.

First I sang in the courts:

then I was plump and handsome;

but am on the streets now,

half-starved.’


‘That’s better,’Gandhi said

with a sly smile, ‘but you must

give up this habit

of speaking in Sanskrit at times.

Go to the fields,listen to

the peasants’ speech.’


The poem turned into a grain

and lay waiting in the fields

for the tiller to come

and upturn the virgin soil

moist with the new rain.

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

SELF

K Satchidanandan

My mother didn’t believe
when, in 1945 I appeared to her
in a dream and told her
I would be born to her the following year.

My father recognized me
As soon as he saw
the mole below my left thumb.
But mother believed to the very end
that someone else had been born to her
masquerading as me.

Father and I pleaded with her;
but dreams are not reliable witnesses.
She went on waiting for that
promised son till she died

Only when she was reborn as my daughter
did she admit it had really been me.

But by then I had begun to doubt
it was someone else’s heart
that was beating within my body.

One day I will retrieve my heart;
my language too.




Yo
K Satchidanandan

Mi madre no creía
cuando en 1945 aparecí ante ella
en un sueño y le dije
que nacería de ella al año siguiente.

Mi padre me reconoció
tan pronto como vio
el lunar bajo mi pulgar izquierdo.
Pero mi madre creyó muy hasta el final
que alguien más había nacido de ella
disfrazándose de mí.

Mi padre y yo le rogamos;
pero los sueños no son testigos de confianza.
Ella siguió esperando por aquel
hijo prometido hasta que murió.

Sólo cuando renació como mi hija
ella admitió que realmente he sido yo.

Pero para entonces yo había empezado a dudar
si era el corazón de algún otro
el que latía dentro de mi cuerpo.

Un día recuperaré mi corazón;
mi lengua también.



Translated into Spanish from English by Bernardo Massoia

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

STAMMER

K Satchidanandan

Stammer
K Satchidanandan

Stammer is no handicap.
It is a mode of speech.

Stammer is the silence that falls
between the word and its meaning,
just as lameness is the
silence that falls between
the word and the deed.

Did stammer precede language
or succeed it?
Is it only a dialect or
a language itself?
These questions make
the linguists stammer.

Each time we stammer
we are offering a sacrifice
to the God of meanings.

When a whole people stammer
stammer becomes their mother-tongue:
just as it is with us now.

God too must have stammered
when He created man.
That is why all the words of man
carry different meanings.
That is why everything he utters
from his prayers to his commands
stammers,
like poetry..


Balbucear
K Satchidanandan

Balbucear no es un impedimento.
Es una forma de hablar.

Balbucear es el silencio que cae
entre la palabra y su significado,
así como la cojera es el
silencio que cae entre
la palabra y el hecho.

¿El balbuceo precedió al lenguaje
o le sucedió?
¿Es sólo un dialecto o
una lengua en sí?
Estas preguntas hacen
a los lingüistas balbucear.

Cada vez que balbuceamos
ofrecemos un sacrificio
al Dios de los significados.

Cuando un pueblo entero balbucea
el balbuceo se convierte en su lengua materna:
tal como sucede ahora con nosotros.

Dios también debe haber balbuceado
cuando creó al hombre.
Por eso todas las palabras de los hombres
llevan diferentes significados.
Por eso todo lo que él pronuncia,
desde sus oraciones hasta sus mandamientos
balbucean
como la poesía...


Translated into Spanish from English by Bernardo Massoia

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

THE MAD

K Satchidanandan

The mad have no caste
nor religion. They transcend
gender, live outside
ideologies. We do not deserve
their innocence.

Their language is not of dreams
but of another reality. Their love
is moonlight. It overflows
on the full moon day.

Looking up they see
gods we have never heard of. They are
shaking their wings when
we fancy they are
shrugging their shoulders. They hold
even flies have souls
and the green god of grasshoppers
leaps up on thin legs.

At times they see trees bleed, hear
lions roaring from the streets. At times
they watch Heaven gleaming
in a kitten’s eyes, just as
we do. But they alone can hear
ants sing in a chorus.

While patting the air
they are taming a cyclone
over the Mediterranean. With
their heavy tread, they stop
a volcano from erupting.

They have another measure
of time. Our century is
their second. Twenty seconds,
and they reach Christ; six more,
they are with the Buddha.

In a single day, they reach
the big bang at the beginning.

They go on walking restless for,
their earth is boiling still.

The mad are not
mad like us.




Los locos
K Satchidanandan

Los locos no tienen casta
ni religión. Ellos trascienden
el género, viven fuera
de ideologías. No merecemos
su inocencia.

Su lengua no es la de los sueños
sino la de otra realidad. Su amor
es luz de luna. Se desborda
el día de plenilunio.

Mirando hacia arriba ven
dioses de los que nunca hemos oído. Agitan
sus alas mientras
suponemos que se
encogen de hombros. Sostienen
incluso que las moscas tienen alma
y que el dios verde de los saltamontes
salta sobre piernas delgadas.

A veces ven árboles sangrar, escuchan
leones rugiendo en las calles. A veces
ven el cielo resplandeciendo
en los ojos de un gatito, del mismo modo
que nosotros lo hacemos. Pero sólo ellos pueden oír
las hormigas cantar en un coro.

Mientras acarician el aire
doman un ciclón
sobre el Mediterráneo. Con
sus pesados pasos, detienen
la erupción de un volcán.

Ellos tienen otra medida
de tiempo. Nuestro siglo es
su segundo. Veinte segundos,
y alcanzan a Cristo, seis más,
y están con Buda.

En un solo día, alcanzan
el big bang en el principio.

Inquietos continúan caminando,
su tierra hierve todavía.

Los locos no están
locos como nosotros.


Translated into Spanish from English by León Blanco

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

TO MEET MY GOD

K Satchidanandan

To meet my God
I rode a bee’s buzz and
followed the road of the word.
A roaring black tiger kept me company.
That road led me
to death in the battle field.

To meet my God
I got into a dry leaf’s vein and
followed the road of Silence.
A dumb camel kept me company.
That road led me
to death in the desert.

To meet my God
I mounted a silkworm’s hair and
followed the road of Order.
An army of guards kept me company.
That road led me
to death in the mountain-snow.

To meet my God
I rode a whirlwind’s back and
followed the road of Disorder.
People, scared, gave me way.
That road led me
to death in the deep woods.

To meet my God
I hung on to an eel’s gills and
dived into the mid-sea.
A whale swallowed us and
led us into the netherworld.
From the barred darkness there,
I heard my God cry
guarded by seven god-men
with flaming swords.
I freed him.

Since that day
I have been in Hell,
unable to know who sent me here,
God or the god-men?

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

TWO POEMS ON POETRY

K Satchidanandan

THE DEAD POEM

When a poem dies,

take care to bury it deep,

before the germs infect

the whole language.

What it needs is

not a garland, but a wreath.


It won’t be firewood,

nor oil for tomorrow.

We will need other poems

to cook our rice

and to run our vehicles.


In fact many poems

that act like new-borns

have risen unseen

from their graves.

Look at them closely:

wrinkled skin, closed eyes,

stilled breath, silent heart.

And that foul smell

of yesterdays.


We pile up heavier and heavier

prizes on them so that

they may never rise at night

and sink their fangs

into the tender throats

of younger poems.


THE UNWRITTEN POEM

I am the poem

no one has written yet.

I traveled up to

the fingertips of many poets

but retreated to the dream

like unexpressed love

as I was without script.


I am not afraid of language

as long as it has a future tense.

One day I will find my words:

a wonder-struck child

will see a sail

unfold and rise slowly

on a vacant page

under a new star.

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME

K Satchidanandan

Earth taught me

to embrace all, to outlive all,

to know stasis is death and

to evolve from season to season,

to be on the move within and without


Fire taught me

to be aflame with desire,

to dance, dance, dance,

until all desires turn to ash,

to sanctify the world with grief,

to illumine through contemplation

the ocean’s womb and the granite’s heart


Water taught me

to ooze unannounced

from eyes and clouds,

to seep deep into earth, into bodies,

adorning both with tender leaves and flowers,

to strip myself of name and location

and merge with the magnificent blue

of memory’s final horizon


Air taught me

to sing disembodied through bamboo-clumps,

to prophesy through leaves,

to lend wings to seeds,

to be, at once, a gentle caressing breeze

and a speeding , howling, storm


Ether taught me

to be full with the full moon,

to be null with the new moon,

to be the red, red flush of dawn and dusk,

to be everywhere and to be nowhere


The five elements taught me

to be one with all,

to be detached from all,

to be changing forms forever,

until the day of my deliverance

from the world of forms.

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHO SAID?
WHEN I ENTER YOU

WHO SAID?

K Satchidanandan

Who said

that waiting is a railway station

in North Malabar? That

a morning in uniform will

arrive there in a coffin?


Who said

that memory is a fragrant window

opening on ripe cornfields? That

our bodies grow cold

as the sun grows dim there?


Who said

that trees have ceased to follow

wind’s language? That we must

conceal from lilies and rabbits

the news of the death of love?


Who said

that now moons will be heavy

like a drunkard’s head? That

evenings will have sick hearts

like a lover’s whispered songs?


Who said

That we are running barefoot over

red-hot iron with a fistful of

childhood rain? That we will, at the end,

hand over our keys to the same rain?


Who said

That men once dead grow younger

and then they enter another Time?

That all the birds that vanished at the sunset

Will return when the word ends?


Who said

That we would understand everything

without anyone telling us anything?

Yet we would not share

anything we know with anyone?

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHEN I ENTER YOU

WHEN I ENTER YOU

K Satchidanandan

When I enter you,

I am entering a gorge

God had opened for me

in Syria’s Maloola.

To arrive there I travelled along

clay-hills and wet valleys,

along words, thirsts and songs.


I know this moist red earth

and this pouring rain.


Someone is pursuing me

with an open sword ,

that is why I speed up

even on this slippery terrain.


Palm trees and camels

should not see me.

I should reach the land beyond

before night arrives.


Here, I am rising,

to the rainbow with

eighteen colours.


Lord,

your country has come.

Translated by the poet into English from Gujarati
BURNT POEMS
GANDHI AND POETRY
SELF
STAMMER
THE MAD
TO MEET MY GOD
TWO POEMS ON POETRY
WHAT THE ELEMENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME
WHO SAID?

Dear Che

K G Sankara Pillai

Dear Che,
you came to our university campus
in mid sixties
with a comrade and a modernist friend
with visuals of jungles past and present
with a vision of a new battle for justice .

Like a fresh wind of October
you joined us
moved us
renewed us
and smoothened our entry into history
with love, dreams and plans.

You told us about the sleeping rebel powers
of mountains and forests of the new minds ;
quite often you talked of the day when
'the Andes would become
the Sierra Maestra of America.'

Our modernist friend said :
you are the red star over the world
tarnished by America ;
you are the future of the world
crippled by America;
you are the Jesus of the modern age
crucified by America .

Although you remained evergreen in us
showed us the exit to the oceans
from the lyrical ponds of our
post Independent Indian youth;
the exit to the storm from the water lily breeze
of our weeping romantic poems ;
dear doctor , you redefined us
living with us

living for us
living in us
passing the confidence of torrents into our deserts
weaving sunlit paths into our prodigal nights.

You brought world into our words
and future into our past
You opened blast-furnaces for our ore.

Translated by A. Lakshim from Malayalam
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
JOKER
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

Therefore I did not go insane

K G Sankara Pillai

If I speak out
I will become the accused,
If I forget
I will turn into a wasteland.
If I neither speak out
nor forget I will turn insane.

Therefore, I buried
certain intimacies on the margins
of my speech, some of my sorrow
on the peripheries of my eyes
some truth in the vicinity of my smile.

I kept them guard under the canopy
of my watchful eyes,
keen to know how they grow.
I buried some of my rage
in the colossal beaks of Jatayu,
in the colours and lines of Goya.
In the arrow tip of Inquilab,'
in signatures, with the infantry
battalion of signatories.

Therefore I did not turn
insane, my forehead did not sprout
horns, nor did my fears take to
fraud or betrayal. Nor did my mistakes
wander on the borders of blood.

Translated by E. V. Ramakrishnan from Malayalam

 

Por eso no me volví loco
K. G. Sankara Pillai

Si hablo claro
voy a ser el acusado,
si olvido
me volveré un desierto.
Si no hablo claro
ni olvido, me volveré loco.

Por eso, enterré
ciertas intimidades
en los márgenes de mi discurso,
algo de mi dolor
en la periferia de mis ojos
alguna verdad
en las inmediaciones de mi sonrisa.

Los vigilé bajo el dosel
de mis ojos atentos,
interesados en saber cómo crecían.
Enterré algo de mi rabia
en los picos colosales de Jatayu,
en los colores y líneas de Goya.
En la punta de flecha de Inquilab,
en firmas, con infantería,
batallones de firmantes.

Por eso no me volví loco,
de mi frente no brotaron cuernos,
mis miedos no llevaron
al fraude o la traición. Ni mis errores
deambularon en los bordes de la sangre.


 

Translated by Berni Sangit into Spanish from English
Dear Che
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
JOKER
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

Deep Layers of the Word

K G Sankara Pillai

In the depths of each word
there is a vessel.
Like an eye that opens and closes on its own
like a sea that rises and recedes
a magic chest.
Countless treasures
we bury in it.

2.
In the depths of each vessel
as the source of all vessels
there is a palm,
the primal vessel.
In the five terrains of the palm
the hunter and the prey
the farmer and fisherman
the shepherd and the vendor of theory
the poet and the cardiologist
thief, astrologer and many others
all reside reciting their litany of grouses
in the same almanac
in different times.
In the short thin lines of the palm
how many great distances,
the branches the age old monkey can
still shake. Addition deduction
multiplication and division,
umpteen functions.
This or that the never-ending doubt.
The marks left by Idikkula master's lashes
the dark winged flutter of Mizhav
the lotus that blooms on fingers
the marks of knowledge
the blood stains from somewhere unknown
the paddy grain harvested unsown
the blows never given
the handshakes never received
the Chinese net of palm-lines to catch
the golden fish that have slipped away
the ship channels of life
The branches that some ape of remote past can still shake.
In the tiny marks on the palm
How many great distances.

3
In the tiny hillocks
of the palm
how many huge mounts,
the calluses the world made.
Rice ball
Being
Sun Moon
Mercury Jupiter
hostile and friendly gazes
the mysterious renderings of the futures!
In the tiny hillocks
of the palm
how many tall peaks!
Great expanse
in the guise of gooseberry.
The native truths blossoming
in the alphabets of the body.

In the depths of each word
a vessel.
a hand,
a land,
an infinity.

Translated by C. S. Venkateswaran from Malayalam
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Within
JOKER
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

Deep Within

K G Sankara Pillai

How fortunate we are
that there are walls.
That walls have gates
and gates have locks.

A small garden
bird-song.
The courtyard sleeps like
a dog. I am alone within.

With folded fangs, observing
my domestic seclusion, the black
beauty of an alluring serpent
descends on the colours of the garden

How fortunate that
we have walls.
That walls have doors
And doors have bolts.
Lucky indeed that I can be
locked within
by my near
and dear ones
when they go to work.

Otherwise
without wasting my life this way
reading Femina
counting my bangles
and watching Star T.V.
I would have crossed
the door, the street,
the city and gone out
of this solitary confinement
to regain my paradise
with the black serpent.

Translated by Berni Sangit into Spanish from English
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
JOKER
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

JOKER

K G Sankara Pillai

History stuffs and converts
great isms into great jokes;
marathon debates,
struggles for independence,
adventures of love,
arguments and laments, into great jokes,
suitable for any occasion,
local or global.

Fear and cry are short lived,
joke is eternal.
everything humane keeps within,
a seed of a joke
a time bomb of laughter.

Don't they say,
to become history is to become a joke,
or to be a joke is to be archaic.
Old age, disease, death, globalization,
malls, multiplexes, metros, mobile phones,
internet, or a new satellite
will change the story of our life
into a cartoon network tomorrow;
It will download our tensions, worries,
and inventions into a joke tomorrow.

We have to be able to laugh then,
don't we?
We have to tell T.S. Eliot
that this laughing spirit is the third
who walks always beside us.
and this joke is
what the river sweats.

Translated by the Poet from Malayalam
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

CLOSE BY

K G Sankara Pillai

Neena, channel reporter
quipped:

Mr. Nazar,
which is your bigger success
the Delhi blast,
the Mumbai one,
or this?

The one here burnt to ashes
a language we can no more speak,
broke to pieces the meanings within memory,
the cool shade within the meanings,
the dream within the faith,
the song within the dream...
They were enough
for the poor to survive...
Shreds of screams
lay entangled in the camera and the cable.
It was impossible to know whether
In their screams they said
"You do not know what you are doing",
whether they prayed the Lord
To forgive you.
Verbs tired of carrying the masculine gender
stood on the streets of screams
awaiting their turn.

People fast forgot
the voice of the slain.
The language of the slayer
grew clearer and louder.
In the voices from within
The rolling of the dice
The abusive laughter of the denuder...

Some tails
grope on the highway
uncertain whom to follow to heaven
smelling Dharma.

Tell us, Nazar,
was this the success
you aimed at?

Nazar did not speak.
Just spat out a mouthful of blood
and showed his mouth:
No toungue.
It had been chopped off.
The blood of language
filled the mouth,
the furnace ready to burn down
all the fourteen worlds.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
JOKER
Polyphony of the Day
In Any House

Polyphony of the Day

K G Sankara Pillai

The same day-break
In a hundred cities,
in a thousand classrooms.

Poetry is the spontaneous
overflow of powerful feelings,
says Wordsworth.

Eleven o’ clock sun
Carves a church of doubt
On the forsaken rockface

Poetry is an escape
from emotion, says Eliot.

The same soul-scorching
Mid-noon sun
On the paths receding in failure
Outside the syllabus.
Poetry is also
Is also weaponry
Says Brecht.

The same afternoon
of spreading shadows
in the parched barren land
pining for the sound of clouds

Poetry is politics,
Says, E.M.S
Poetry

Is the crown seized
With asixer from the last ball
In one-day cricket,
says the gallery.

Poetry
Is what melts in small waves
Into one’s self
declares the congregation of drinkers.

Poetry
Is the woman’s body that sings
and dances the ecstasy of eros
from head to toe
says the evening TV prayer.

In a hundred forests
On a thousand branches,
The same sunset.

Poetry
is armed non-violence,
says the stag.
(Horns are for horns’ sake)

Poetry
is the ascent of the world’s passion
through the phases of the moon
says the crescent of the moon.

Poetry
is the rites of passage
of the life’s journey,
says Death.

Poetry
is the endless raging encounters
with the waxing and waning of the lunar month,
says the sea.

Translated by Berni Sangit into Spanish from English
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
JOKER
CLOSE BY
In Any House

In Any House

K G Sankara Pillai

There is rainbow of love
In the rusted handle of the plastic bucket.
Though Nandan or Meera doesn’t see it.
Neither do they search for it.
How many days after marriage
do lovers begin to forget love?
To remember the period of love
like a lost childhood?
How many of them would
burn in the agony of their derailed love
and plant a new line?
How many would decide to separate
without hitches and screams?
How many would decide
to continue their love song?
Each day,
in each house
there is a youthfulness that ages.
an antiqueness to be rejuvenated,
the emptiness of a vessel to be filled,
a lamp to be woken up,
a coldness to be warmed up,
a shabbiness to be cleansed,
a litter to be discarded,
a lie to be worn,
a handcuff to be hidden,
a file to be extinguished,
Inside a mind made of houses,
some heavy doors always remain closed.
Some forgotten keys jingle.
There is the soul of a rainbow hiding
in the sanyasi-drop on a lotus leaf.
in the water gushing through a shower,
in the pacifying light streak on the river-ripples-
a fairy with new songs and life for
all that has been forgotten.
Though in the sightlessness of
washing, cooking, cleaning, and
innumerous other trivialities,
Meera and Nandan
Never knows or sees it

Translated by Aditya Shankar from Malayalam
Dear Che
Therefore I did not go insane
Deep Layers of the Word
Deep Within
JOKER
CLOSE BY
Polyphony of the Day

History

K R TONY

It happened in a weak moment.
It was the moment that was weak.

A tottering wall suddenly collapsed.
Bricks and mortar flew about as dust.

Only, in the hurry none took note
Of the face of that huge brick turn redder and redder.

When it stood up straight and began to talk
Those who were tottering suddenly collapsed
And began flying about as dust.

Staring in silence, one weak moment it broke down
And history’s tears went on watering the earth.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Buddha on the Highway

KALPATTA NARAYANAN

Yesterday
I saw Buddha cross the road.
I had been waiting long on this side
unable to cros in the evening rush
thinking how we wait for an year
or an year and a half in order to cross the road
in a life fifty, sixty or seventy years long.

He crossed the road, slow, fearless.
As I began to follow him
a vehicle rushed forward screaming at me.

No vehicle slowed down for him;
he just walked along
a wild, wide, desolate path
which was always there
and reached the other side.

Translated from Malayalam by K Satchidanandan

Buda en la carretera
KALPATTA NARAYANAN

Ayer
Vi a Buda cruzar la carretera.
Yo había estado esperando mucho de este lado
incapaz de cruzar, en la hora pico de la tarde
pensando en cómo esperamos un año
o un año y medio para cruzar la carretera
en una vida de cincuenta, sesenta o setenta años.

Él cruzó la calle, lento, sin miedo.
A medida que empecé a seguirlo
un vehículo aceleró, gritándome.

Ningún vehículo desaceleró por él;
él sólo caminó a lo largo
de un camino desolado, amplio, salvaje,
que siempre estuvo allí,
y alcanzó el otro lado.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

The Children of the Forest Talk to Jesu

M B MANOJ

We are not the ones who whipped you;
we even gave our land to hang your pictures
and adorn your statues
that lean forward from the Cross.

Why, Jesu,instead of talking staright
did you ever lead us along
this tortuous path?

Tell us the truth:
aren’t you really
our betrayer?

You might have lived for
your twelve disciples;
what is it to us?

Here, on this churchyard,
Your devotees screamed with the same tongue
That had offered you prayers:
‘ This man is a tribal.
Throw him to the police ’.
Jesu,
for which side did you then pray?

Does he/she
have one way left to freely walk,
clothe,
sleep?

We kept moving away,
farther away,as they drove us,
to the very edges of earth.
Yet you keep returning
as People’s Man,
as newspapers,
as The Public and as old rag.

Today, watching the nudity
of your fair body, yet unburied,
let us speak the unsullied words
of the confessers:

‘We will not exchange this land
even for four hundred thousand deadbodies
more to sleep.
Amen’

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Elegy

P RAMAN

Lord Siva, whom
even poison trapped in the throat
could not kill,
look at this child, gone,
with a whistle trapped in its throat,
the old man, with sputum
the fishermen, with fish,
and the poet
with a word trapped in his throat.

Lord Siva, whom
even poison trapped in the throat
could not kill,
the child is gone,
with a whistle trapped in his throat.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Language, Arithmetic

P P RAMACHANDRAN

Reduced to fractions
arithmetic is easy.

So much of sand, so much of water,
if we measure them,
the river is an easy sum,
can do it in the mind.

There are no more boats in the ferry
no more currents to flow
no woods in the mountains
no abyss left unfilled
Malayalam is just one desolate expanse.

I gave a hoot with my
meaningless tongue
reduced to a hollow sound.

A boy on the third bank of the river
saw everything from the branch
of a tamarind tree.

He has no grammar at all;
the hooting at the ferry is sweet poetry to him.
He does not know simple arithmetic.
To him, many ones together make
just a very big One.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Identity Card

S JOSEPH

In my student days
a girl came laughing

Our hands met kneading
her rice and fish curry

On a bench we became
a Hindu-Christian family

I whiled away my time
reading Neruda’s poetry;
and meanwhile I misplaced
my Identity Card.

I noticed, she said
returning my card:
the account of your stipend
is entered there in red.

These days I never look at
a boy and a girl lost in themselves.
They will depart after a while.
I won’t be surprised even if they unite.
Their Identity Cards
won’t have scribblings in red.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

The Pen-knife

SAR JU

The iron in the blood,
an invisible knife
in the depths.

It won’t rust until death;
yet life has managed to dissolve it.

Unknown to the shirt’s pocket,
not hidden on the waist-belt
an artist’s care without a cover
or the beast’s instinct,
as an inner strength
in the turns of the road,
in our rowdy times.
.
Still during the security checks
at the airports,
raising my hands in a gesture of surrender,
pretending to be tickled.

With the poets with
smuggler’s faces,
along with the cut -throat evenings.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Being Married

V M GIRIJA

Then I fell flat
on the cold floor
to turn into a mount of snow.

You sleep far away,
naked,
quelled like a cloud after the rain.
I, wounded,
like the earth torn by lightning…
Inside the earth
tumult, laughter,
youth, love.

The moment when you
first filled my body…

Are all these lies?

On the cold floor,
a nude sculpture in stone,
bleeding black moonlight, I.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Autobiography: A Book

V R SANTHOSH

At the end of everything
time will forget him;
only the common iron
of oblivion will remain.

The chill of silence
the sea first chose
will be stuck on his face:
he will not know.
Its monochrome painting
will come in search of you
from the mined out building.

His invisible chill
the world will never know.

Translated by K. Satchidanandan from Malayalam

Rain, Wind

VEERAN KUTTY

Every rain
is an ocean overturned.
Who is it that dries it up
when God’s ships
fail to reach the earth?

Wind is cotton
soaked in ether
that God
drops down.
Will it have ways left
to travel back
carrying the pain
from the wounds?

Translated by K. Satchidanandan

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